fill in the plank…

I love salmon.

Living in the Pacific Northwest where it is abundant, I have become quite the salmon snob. If my salmon is ever served to me with just a hint of overdoneness, I have no qualms in sending it back to the kitchen. In fact, I did it last week. It was well-done!

Although I can be, I don’t set out to be a snob when it comes to my food. Cooking salmon is so easy, it is even easier to mess it up.

Overcooking is probably the number one reason how something so good goes bad. I do like mine slightly pink in the inside and I think that is the best way to serve salmon.

Just like with meats, the cooking process continues for another 5-7 minutes even after it’s taken off the heat. With that in mind, I stop cooking the cooking around 5 minutes before the desired doneness and let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving. This retains the moisture and the juices are allowed to redistribute giving you the perfectly cooked salmon.

I love its fresh taste and whenever I prepare it, I try not to overwhelm the dish with unnecessary flavors. The salmon should be predominantly highlighted and not masked with obtrusive spices or sauces. My usual method is baking it with just fresh dill and lemon. Simple and yummy…

Last night, I grilled some salmon. Usually, I am the lucky recipient of freshly-caught salmon from very generous friends. Unfortunately, none of them had gone fishing lately and I was obliged to visit my local fishmonger.

With the good intent of preparing a lot of planked salmon, I bought some cedar planks well before summer started . We’re now heading into fall and I have yet to use a single piece.

Only use natural, untreated red cedar planks. Soak the plank in water for at least 2 hours (I do mine overnight) to prevent it from burning too soon. This is what gives the salmon the sweet, smoky flavor. To keep them from floating, I set coffee mugs filled with water to hold them down.

I normally would use fillets, but I wanted leftovers (for salmon cakes!) so I grilled a whole one instead. I stuffed the belly cavity with diced Walla-Walla onions and roma tomatoes. And for the rub, I made one with brown sugar, dried mustard, sea salt, and fresh-cracked pepper.

As with rotisserie chicken, the “slow and low” method of indirect grilling is the best way for achieving great salmon. And in about 35 minutes, I had me some cedar-planked salmon…


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